Just after re-launching Digital Circle as part of the Raise family, we didn’t let the grass grow under our heels as we headed straight into a Roundtable with the Department of the Economy about the excessive disparity between the demand for digital skills and the supply. The consultation, being hosted by the CBI, recognises that the digital industry is bigger than anyone in government appreciated. That mainstream “non-digital” companies are in need of advanced technical digital skillsets and we simply are not training enough people. Additionally there is pressure because of the uncertainty around Brexit which has reduced investment, reduced worker numbers and reduced the amount of potential interventions.
We also hosted our own investment pitching event, Raise the Glass, and helped facilitate the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association event in the MAC. That was just after hosting a lunch for the startup ecosystem in Northern Ireland. It was recognised that we had a lot of people doing great work for the NI economy but that, as Northern Ireland tends, it was excessively siloed and there was a massive delta between the public sector interventions and the private sector investments. Digital Circle is all about opening up silos and getting people talking – that’s what worked before and we have no reason to believe it won’t work in the future.
Raise the Glass was, from our point of view, a resounding success. Yes, there were great pitches and our startups who pitched presented themselves very well, but the real benefit was in the meetings and conversations. When one of your mentees is abuzz not only with interest from investors but also being inundated with potential customers, you know you’re doing it right.
On Friday, our “Tech for Non-Tech Founders” event, which will be returning again next month, introduced some startup founders with no technical background to friendly developers who explained the basics in working in the tech sector and the things you have to understand. Future sessions will delve in a little deeper into terminology (jargon) that those of us with decades of tech background take for granted.
We followed this up with a participation into an IET investigation into the games industry in Northern Ireland. This is an intriguing place to be – but due to lack of investment (if you want to see a group of rich people pulling a face like they just bit into a lemon, pop along to one of our local venture capital firms and tell them you’re making games), the games subsector has floundered. What is the problem when the largest entertainment sector in the world by a huge margin can’t get notice from investors? Yes, it’s risky. And that’s the reason why. Raise will be having at least one game pitch at the next Raise event. We have to do something or just accept that we will always be bit players – and that last options leaves a bitter taste in our mouth (!).
Tonight we are sponsoring Lightning Talks to raise money for Pretty in Pink and later this week, we are co-hosting a trip to Dublin Startup Week. Savvy (and older) readers will recognise what we are doing is picking up where Digital Circle left off back in 2015.
We’d encourage all of you to attend our Reality of Crowdfunding Event in early November. Remember that Members get in free.